An Irish campaign group is calling for changes to police policy following the results of a new study, which shows that more than 150 sex workers have been prosecuted under brothel keeping laws over the last ten years. The same study showed that almost all of those convicted under brothel keeping laws are migrant women, and that in 90% of the cases, those involved were ‘named and shamed’ in the media.
Brothel keeping in the Republic of Ireland is defined as more than one sex worker operating from the same premises, and criminalisation of brothel keeping was not repealed in Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act of 2017. This 2017 law was introduced to criminalise the clients of sex workers (known as the Nordic Model), and also increased the criminalisation of sex workers through harsher penalties for brothel keeping and ‘living on earnings of prostitution’.
Last week Senator Lynn Ruane said that ‘the research is proof the law has failed, and should be changed’:
“This was a law that was touted as necessary to keep sex workers safe, and yet it is now clearly and actively causing harm, further marginalising those involved and impacting those most already at risk, particularly women from migrant backgrounds”.
Brothel Keepers said: “We note that in jurisdictions such as Vancouver in Canada and the UK, police have formally adopted guidelines that prioritise the safety of people in sex work over enforcement. We are calling on An Garda Síochána to immediately develop and implement policy that will reduce harm to people in sex work.”